“They're afraid they've lost another piece of the community,” Powell said. “I've been very, very cautious about going in. I don't want anybody to think Wayne Schools is trying to poach. It continues to get harder and harder every year for schools like Byars.”
Superintendent Jerry Carpenter spends a few hours each morning at Fanshawe, drives 10 miles east and spends the rest of the day at Wister. He has been superintendent at Wister for 17 years and started his sharing duties this year.
But Carpenter has a heart for Fanshawe. His parents graduated from Fanshawe before the district lost its high school in the 1960s because of dwindling enrollment.
The population has continued to decline.
“Their budget was very tight — to the point of having to consider issues of annexation and so forth,” Carpenter said.
“Obviously, they wanted to keep a school district if they could.”
Sharing a superintendent is a good step, he said. Digging up cost savings has been key. But now, he said, it's time to get back to business.
“Our No. 1 goal has got to be what we're doing academically,” he said. “Once we clear the financial hurdles in making this work, we've got to roll up our sleeves and go to work on the academic side.”
For superintendents to share districts successfully, they have to have good staff members in each location, said Terry Mays, superintendent of Cave Springs and Rocky Mountain. Mays splits his time between the districts, which have about 200 students each.
Superintendents need the support of both communities, and Mays said he's grateful that he does.
“It's just amazing how good people are,” he said. “It's good. I enjoy the kids, and I tell you what: we're blessed in this part of the country with some outstanding kids and parents.